I actually didn’t realise that Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote young adult fiction, but I loved The Shadow Of The Wind, and I think this book has some tonal similarities.
Following the death of her father in 1937, Irene moves with her mother and younger brother to a small island where her mother can work as housekeeper for the enigmatic Lazurus Jann. Surrounded by his work as a clockwork toy designer, Lazurus appears kindly and is well liked by the children, but things are not as they appear as a strange and deadly shadow starts to kill and Irene, with a new friend and romantic interest, Ismael, are forced to investigate.
It’s not a long book, but it flows beautifully, and is filled with clockwork motifs, strange stories, and unfolding mysteries. As Zafon points out, he wanted to write something that was a homage to some of the things that he read as a child, mysteries by Enid Blyton, for example, and adventures by Alexandre Dumas. In this, I think he’s quite successful, but it also has his own personal spin on things, with family tragedy and secrets coming to light, strange comings and goings at night, lost love and first loves. I really enjoyed reading it.
Read It If: You liked old fashioned mysteries or other Zafon books. It’s a very pleasing adventure/fantasy story.